Leaders should lead as far as they can and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit.
— H. G. Wells

Most of us, if not all, will have the opportunity to be in a position of leadership. Whether in the classroom, your CCA, in National Service for the guys, or in the workplace in future.

by definition, a leader is one because he/she has followers. If you find yourself in a leadership position yet are not listening to and working on behalf of your followers, then you can't possibly call yourself a leader.

There is no such thing as a perfect leader. Extraordinary leaders are not born, but made. Which is why good leaders are conscious about improving themselves - through self-refection, investing time in others, and figuring out how to get the most out of everyone around them. It's hard to pinpoint what makes a good leader, but here are 5 things we can be sure that good leaders do not have:

1. Being egocentric

Simply holding a leadership title doesn’t automatically make one a leader, and one of the worst faults a leader can have is too much ego, pride and arrogance. People in leadership positions must accept that it's not all about them and remember that, while they may set the overall tone and direction, they are not necessarily the most important person there.

If a leader doesn’t understand the concept of “service above self”, they will not inspire the trust, confidence, and loyalty of those they lead. A true leader is most concerned with the well-being of their people, investing time in truly understanding their needs and giving value to their opinions.  

2. Being bad at communicating

Great leaders can communicate effectively. They not only speak well, but they listen actively, think fluidly, and knows when to dial it up, down, or off. When leaders are able to describe what they want done in a clear and succinct way, it helps their followers prioritise what they need to do effectively. For example, if the general cannot express where he wants his troops to travel to next, the entire army is confused and thrown into chaos. 

This being said, having good communication skills is more than just directing others to follow you - it's also about maintaining healthy relationships and developing the ability to encourage your people to envision the same goals as you. Your role is to paint the bigger picture so that your followers understands your vision and what is expected of them. In an office environment, this is illustrated best when seeing the CEO of the company making it a point to talk to staff on a regular basis. By cultivating healthy lines of communication, it will result in creating a more positive and productive environment.

3. Being a micromanager

Have you ever had a designated project leader delegate the various roles of a group project but end up breathing down each of your necks to check up on your work? Didn't it make you feel annoyed, as well as not feeling empowered to get your part done?

One of the most common mistakes a leader makes is to keep focusing on what they're good at and what has been proven to work in the past. If you cannot let go of your desire to be an effective "doer", this prevents you from having your eye on the bigger picture, as you will be busy trying to make sure everyone else is doing a good job. This is also known as micromanaging others.

Micromanagers can produce good results, but they alienate their followers along the way. One way to avoid this is for leaders to make conscious efforts to share their goals and the intent of actions with their teams so they understand the direction to move in together. An effective team should act like a school of fish, individuals moving in the same direction while giving each other the space required to perform their tasks. 

4. Practicing favouritism

I remembered when I was a prefect in secondary school. Whenever there was a surprise spot-check, I would be the one helping my friends to hide their contraband items because the teachers wouldn't check the prefects.  

This made me look good in the eyes of my friends, but I'm sure my other classmates hated me for that. When someone in a leadership position singles out individuals to play favourites with, it can be one of the most damaging problems as there is no chance to build a culture of trust. If trust is low, people instinctively assume the worst intent rather than the best intent. This is extremely divisive, and worse, it might start to pit peers in the same team against each other. 

And good leaders will not allow that to happen. 

5. Lacking in commitment

During World War II, Captain Henry "Jim" Crowe of the United States Marine Corps said the following words to his troops: "You'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!" The Purple Heart is one of the highest order that a soldier can be awarded, and is usually awarded for extreme bravery and honour.

When Captain Crowe made that statement, it was more than just an order. it was his action of not showing fear, and leading by example by being in the front lines fighting alongside them, that motivated his men. If a leader expects his or her team to work hard and produce quality results, they're going to need to be down in the trenches working alongside everyone else.

There is no greater motivation than seeing the person in-charge prove that hard work is done on every level. Showing commitment to the cause will not only earn respect among your followers, but instil a passionate energy within them as well. If you've pledged something, keep your word. You want to create a reputation for not just working hard, but also be known as a fair leader. The best leaders build into their team, support their team, and genuinely care for their team.